The Moth & The Mirror: Honestly, This World

If reviews on this site included subheadings then this post's would read 'back-room boys done good?'. A first glance at the credits for this new band suggest that one is looking at a new 'supergroup' in much the same vein as Gary Lightbody's The Reindeer Section, which in its day was a veritable who's-who (or who's-whom, if you prefer) of Scottish musicians. Frightened Rabbit, Arab Strap and Admiral Fallow can all be found in the bloodline of The Moth & The Mirror, but not in the way one would expect. Of the three groups mentioned, the only frontman included this new band is Admiral Fallow's Louis Abbot, and for most of the time he takes a back seat in the line up. Fronting the band is Stacey Sievewright, who played cello for Arab Strap, and the FR connection comes in the form of Gordon Skene, who joined Scott Hutchinson et al in 2009 as an extra guitarist to reenforce the band's live sound.

To be seduced by the lure of the 'supergroup' tag is to set yourself up for disappointment, really, but moreover such a classification misses the point of this band entirely. The point, in fact, is just that: The Moth & The Mirror are a genuine band. I don't have any insights into the motivations behind this projects inception, but from the evidence of the music alone, this record is the work of people who just want to make music together. There's none of the self-aggrandising, name-dropping, fun-to-be-in-but-terrible-to-listen-to sense that one traditionally gets from supergroups (will The Reindeer Section and Them Crooked Vultures please stand up?). Honestly, This World sounds like a bona fide album; a focused, coherent artistic statement with no agenda other than to stand on its own merit.

I can see why the press for this release focusses on the pedigree of the performers, but this 'maguffin' approach to generating interest doesn't do the band any favours. The first points of comparison for anyone hearing them are instantly going to be three of the best Scottish bands of the last decade or so; all hard acts to follow, I'm sure you'll agree. As it stands, predictably, The Moth & The Mirror aren't in the same league as their cousins. This is an assured, competent first record that any band could rightly be proud of, but it lacks the spark of inspiration that so successfully catapulted its ancestors into the giddy heights of genius. Sievewright's voice is strong and in-tune, if a little bland for these ears, and interacts nicely with Abbot's backing vocals. And if you're a fan of the guitar-based aesthetic of FR and AF then you'll find nothing to offend you in the 42 minutes of Honestly, This World. This is, on balance, a good record, and one that will most likely stay in rotation on my stereo for at least a month or so. Its downfall, for me, is that Sievewright isn't interesting enough to hold my attention for a whole album, but that is - I'll be the first to admit - a totally subjective opinion. In truth, I've been more critical of this record than I would have been had it come out-of-the-blue with no celebrity connections; I've given far worse records far better write-ups in the past, but in this instance I can't un-hear the comparisons to better bands. This is a good record with much to recommend it, just don't be lead astray by the cries of 'supergroup'.

The Moth & The Mirror - Fire [audio //]

The Moth & The Mirror - Everyone I Know [audio //]

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